FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – When moving to new duty assignments with their Soldiers, Army spouses typically face uncertainty about employment opportunities at a new installation. Kimberly Leipheimer, recruiting manager with Army & Air Force Exchange Service, said Army spouses who are AAFES associates can alleviate some of that stress when preparing for permanent change of station, or PCS, moves.
“The Exchange offers two programs for associates who are moving with their spouses on PCS orders,” Leipheimer said. “The Associate Transfer Program and the Spouse Employment Continuity Program. For military spouses who are not currently working for us we also offer military spouse preference in hiring.”
How it works
The Associate Transfer Program, or ATP, is available to all associates and can be used by military spouses as well as dependents, while the Spouse Employment Continuity Program is only open to military spouses when moving because of a PCS, Leipheimer said.
“Using the ATP, the local Exchange HR office will coordinate with the gaining Exchange HR office with the goal of identifying a position for them before they leave the losing Exchange,” she said. “If a transfer could not be facilitated before the associate leaves the losing Exchange then the associate can utilize the Spouse Employment Continuity Program if eligible. The Spouse Continuity Program provides priority noncompetitive placement for a period of 12 months to Exchange military spouses who meet the program criteria.”
When the associate is at the new duty station and ready to begin work, they will be offered the next position they meet the minimum qualifications for within their employment category, Leipheimer said.
Using the programs
For AAFES associates who are military spouses are interested in using these programs the first step is to visit the Exchange human resources office, Leipheimer said.
“If we are unable to complete a transfer, or if the associate will be taking extended time before reporting to the new duty station, we would process a resignation and encourage the associate to use the Spouse Employment Continuity Program,” she said.
Leipheimer has used ATP herself when her husband PCSed from Fort Irwin, California, and said it benefitted her greatly.
“As an Army spouse of 26 years I understand how challenging it can be to move and switch jobs every two to three years,” she said “PCSing is stressful and knowing you have a job already lined up on the other end makes it a little less so. It also provides the opportunity to have longevity with one company and to build a career that can move with you.”
Because Leipheimer has been through the process of changing jobs and installations, she tries to encourage AAFES associates to use the programs that are available to them, she said.
Yaritza Gonzalez, a military spouse and AAFES associate at Fort Campbell, has worked for the Exchange service for three years and also has used ATP.
“This program allowed me to transfer my position to another AAFES location smoothly by giving me priority over other applicants,” Gonzalez said. “Not having to worry about searching for a new job has given me tremendous peace of mind.”
She said her experience with the program has been nothing but positive and highly recommends other spouses take advantage.
“This is a great organization with a lot of growth potential, and I am very blessed to be a part of this great team and to have been able to share my experience,” Gonzalez said.